£100m of private funding has been made available to a new generation network operator on a mission to provide hypersonic broadband access to 1,000,000 premises over the next six years.
The significant independent investment from Basalt Infrastructure Partners is the driving force behind the launch of alternative network (altnet) provider, Digital Infrastructure, and its sister Internet Service Provider (ISP) brand, Be Fibre.
Responsible for planning, building and operating full-fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks across the United Kingdom, Digital Infrastructure has already opened hubs in the Northwest of England (Cheshire), the Southeast (Essex), and the Midlands. A fourth hub is also set to launch near the Scottish Border in 2022, with the ultimate goal of reaching approximately 80 towns and cities by 2027.
The symmetrical network promises download and upload speeds up to 13 times faster than the fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) coverage that currently spans the majority of the UK .
Utilising existing duct infrastructure without having to dig up the roads, the Digital Infrastructure strategy is to adopt quicker and less disruptive build methods, to lower roll out costs, increase efficiency, and minimise the environmental impact of the network deployment.
The nine-figure investment will also supercharge Be Fibre’s ability to deliver end-user residential and business connectivity over the Digital Infrastructure network, over the next six years.
Striving to be known as the broadband provider that keeps its promises, the venture is the brainchild of a number of well-known telecoms professionals ready to challenge the status quo, notably Executive Chairman investor and advisor Carlos Bock.
Carlos has been joined by Charlie Ruddy – who brings 30 years’ experience within telecommunications and takes the helm as CEO – along with Chief Marketing Communications Officer Rob Andrews, Chief Customer Officer Louise Elliott, Chief Financial Officer Dave Mountain, and Chief Technology Officer Oriol Riba.
Up to 500 engineering and white-collar jobs will be created to support the growth of both organisations and the business supply chain, by the end of 2022.
By working closely with local authorities and stakeholders, the team is clear on its differential in a crowded industry.
“We embarked on our journey to future-proof the UK’s connectivity in January 2021, and things are really gathering momentum,” commented CEO Charlie Ruddy. “We’re providing local communities with a fit-for-the-future infrastructure that delivers the guaranteed speeds people need now and for years to come. This is a brand-new network that will leave a positive legacy in society.”
“We want to change the perception that the broadband market is full of broken promises when it comes to speed, reliability and customer service,” continued Be Fibre’s Chief Marketing Communications Officer Rob Andrews. “Think the ability to download multiple box-sets, high-definition films and games console updates in minutes, with no buffering worries when you’re trying to work efficiently from home on a video call.
“These are the connectivity demands that increasingly busy homes and businesses are rightfully placing on their broadband providers. And we’re here to deliver the performance improvements customers are looking for.”
“There are only a handful of times in your career when you’re able to truly make a difference and I believe this is one of them,” added Charlie. “We can positively influence how communities live, work and play – not to mention how people view the provision of what is now widely regarded the fourth utility.”
“Despite our historic innovation in this space, the UK lags significantly behind overseas nations when it comes to full-fibre,” elaborated Carlos Bock. “In fact, we’re currently ranked 35th in terms of our broadband speeds –up from 47th in 2020, but still down from 34th in 2019 . We have to change this.”
Commenting on the investment, Steven Lowry, Partner of Basalt Infrastructure Partners LLP, said: “We are keen to support the Be Fibre and Digital Infrastructure business plan through further capital investment, and look forward to working closely with the highly experienced management team to deliver reliable and high speed FTTP to underserved, mid-sized towns in the UK.”
Basalt Infrastructure Partners is an independent transatlantic investment firm with a $5bn portfolio of assets.